How biopesticides can help the rural economy - Rural Economy and ...

How biopesticides can help the rural economy - Rural Economy and ...

RELU: Biological alternatives to chemical

pesticides in the food chain

• Dept of Politics &

International Studies.

Wyn Grant, Justin Greaves.

• Warwick HRI.

Dave Chandler, Gill Prince.

• Dept of Biological


Mark Tatchell.

Main aims:

Biopesticides: regulatory sustainability. Why aren’t

products reaching the market in the UK

– Assess limitations of chemical pesticide

regulatory system for biopesticides.

– Identify processes that may sustain regulatory


– Compare public policies on pesticide reduction.


New a.i. registrations











reduced risk conventional

Registration in the USA

1986 1988 1990 1992 1994 1996 1998 2000 2002 2004 2006

Biopesticides: environmental sustainability. Improving

knowledge of the ecology of fungal biopesticides.

Main aims:

– Understand the effect of habitat type (e.g, woodland v. arable) on

biodiversity of natural populations of insect pathogenic fungi.

– Fungal life history: how do insect pathogenic fungi survive in soils

– Impact of spraying on indigenous fungal populations

Chemical pesticides

• Consumer and retailer resistance –

although no real evidence of significant

impacts on human and animal health in

the food chain

• Shift from politics of production to

collective consumption

• Concerns may deter fruit and vegetable


Problems for growers

• New chemistry expensive to develop

• As existing products are withdrawn,

resistance problems increase

• Consumer could face higher prices

and/or lower quality


• Micro-organisms that kill insects and


• Naturally widespread, little or no toxic

residue, safe to wildlife (but possible

impact on beneficials)

• Highly specific, so niche market

Lack of success

• Have been around commercially for 20+

years but very small share of market

• One explanation is market failure

hypothesis (Imperial at Wye based


• Regulatory failure hypothesis – not an

attack on regulators, but systemic

problems of regulation/regulatory state

Benefits for the rural economy

• Biopesticides are usually produced by


• Plants and research facilities are not


• One of biggest in UK is around 70, more

typical size might be 15

• But high quality jobs with local multiplier


Benefits for growers/farmers

• Survey evidence shows strong public

demand for food that is free of pesticide


• Retailers are imposing requirements in

terms of not using existing pesticides

that go beyond what regulators require

• Number of chemical actives likely to

reduce because of EU legislation

Niche markets for local products

• Public willingness to buy local food with

identified producer – although many

decisions still based on price

• Public interest in reducing food miles –

although this is a more complex subject

than is generally allowed, but

perceptions are important

Some challenges (1)

• Public have a very positive perception

of organic products

• There is very little public understanding

of Integrated Crop

Management/Integrated Pest

Management and its environmental


Some challenges (2)

• ‘If you talk to an audience about ICM,

will switch off immediately’ – quality

assurance manager, major retail chain

• ‘Have to look at different language on

biopesticides. The consumers, as soon

as you say pesticides, all are as bad as

DDT’ - retailer

Some challenges (3)

• Issues about efficacy. Grower may

need to use more products and results

not as good as with tried and tested

chemical products

• Most extensively used in controlled

glasshouse environments, need to

develop in broad acre crops

Some positives

• UK regulatory regime seen as more

flexible and efficient than elsewhere in


• Pesticides Safety Directorate has just

launched new Biopesticides Scheme

• Creates a window of opportunity

A vision for the West Midlands

• Regional facilities developing and

producing biopesticides

• Growers making more extensive use of


• Promoting regional foods that are

produced in this environmentally friendly


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